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ICF Wales Regional Group: Future Forestry. What will Wales’ Forestry look like in 2050? report

Associate member Mike Cresswell

Associate member Mike Cresswell, attended the ICF Wales Regional Group event: Future Forestry. What will Wales’ Forests look like in 2050? Mike reports on his experience.

This year the Wales region held its annual general meeting and annual autumn conference at Bangor University. The event had over 90 delegates ranging from non-members to Fellows of the Institute, with a great representation from Bangor University students.

Morning session

Opening: Future Forestry. What will Wales’ Forests look like in 2050?

We began the day with an introduction of the event speakers from our outgoing Regional Chair, Dai Jones MICFor, who was swiftly followed by Professor John Healey MICFor, from Bangor University. John gave a brilliant introduction to the day, talking about professional competency within the sector and the need for us all to look at ourselves and critically analyse our actions. Forestry is changing very rapidly, with changing demands from society, hence the need to maintain and keep up CPD (continuing professional development).

The first speaker of the day was Andy Smith, from Bangor University.  Andy was looking towards the agricultural sector, discussing ecosystem services and how we need better integration between forestry and agriculture in decision-making on a landscape scale.

Next up was Robert McCall, from Natural Resources Wales, who looked at the key drivers influencing forestry throughout the world and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) markets, concluding that they are here to stay, with them being a real win-win if we get the PES delivery working as part of a sustainable productive forestry.

“…the known knowns; the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns”

Tom Jenkins FICFor, from Forest Research, then led on to the inevitable pest and disease discussion. Tom looked at what is in Wales now, what is potentially up and coming to Wales and, what is not yet in the UK (as far as we know!). Tom neatly summed up with one of his favourite quotes regarding “the known knowns; the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns”.

Andrew Sowerby MICFor, from Pryor and Rickett Silviculture, and Dr Owen Davies, from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) UK, finished the morning session off with an informal conversational presentation about silvicultural system that was thought provoking and well-informed. They pointed out that currently they don’t see silvicultural systems changing that significantly, however they do need to change in the right locations for the right reasons. Owen stated how even though there are some great papers out there, they are finite. There is nothing more important than getting out and practising forestry.

Afternoon session

Panel debate: Future Forestry. What will Wales’ Forests look like in 2050?

Following lunch, we were pleased to have Mike Harvey and Liz Whitcome, from Maelor Forest Nurseries. Mike gave more of an overview of the nursery that produced 26 million trees into the market last year. Liz then gave a very detailed presentation on Somatic Embryogenesis.

Next up was ICF’s Associate member Iwan Williams, Tilhill Forestry, who gave a timber buyer perspective of future forestry. In summary, there is a future question of timber availability in Wales, as well as the move away from planting main timber producing conifer species to more minor species, which will challenge the timber industry in the future.

Tim Kirk MICFor, from Forest Valuations, finished the day off by giving an interesting insight to who is investing in Wales, ending on how the future is rosy and there are opportunities. Rachel Chamberlain FICFor, from Natural Resources Wales, finished the entire day by summing up the speakers and finishing with the need to use the new legislation in a way to help forestry move forward positively.

Special thanks

Thanks to all the speakers, John Healey MICFor for the opening address and chairing the morning debate and to Tim Jones, from Natural Resources Wales, for chairing the afternoon debate. Special thanks to Tom Jenkins FICFor, Mike Harvey and Liz Whitcome for standing in at very last minute due to illness from other speakers. Finally thank you to all the committee for helping organise and deliver such a great event. Please keep your eyes peeled for next year’s events. If you have any ideas, then please feed them into your regional committee to help shape and develop these CPD events for you.

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